Wi-Fi Deals Still Don't Make Skype Mobile

from the cheap-isn't-free dept

Wi-Fi provider Boingo said today it’s launching a new service called “Skype Zones,” selling unlimited Skype-only access for $8 per month. Despite its buzz-worthy name, this service is little more than a crippled, cheaper version of Boingo’s $22 per month unlimited Wi-Fi plan. It’s hard to think that very many people would be interested in paying $8 per month just for access to Skype at certain hotspots — it’s like having to pay a membership fee for a phonebooth. This service doesn’t bring Skype any closer to being the mobile-operator “killer” that rabid Skype fanatics have been promising from a combination of it and Wi-Fi: it doesn’t expand the coverage footprint, which still can’t hold a candle to that of mobile networks and service is still tied primarily to a PC. There is no doubt that VoIP services like Skype do represent a threat to mobile carriers, but at this point that threat is minimal. It’s not until VoIP services can be better integrated with mobile phones to combine the benefits inherent in mobility with the rock-bottom prices that drive so many people to Skype, that it will be a major threat. Making that combination work, though, while maintaining Skype’s low cost is a pretty significant hurdle. Add to that the access charges from various Wi-Fi providers like Boingo, and it gets even harder.

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